I would love to say that I took London by a storm but I must admit, I was too sleepy for that. After trying to upgrade my seats on the flight, I accepted that there was no zone for “people who think they’re better than flying economy without the price of first class tickets” so I made do with the seats we were given. Fortunately, Keely moved into an unused row and I then had two seats to myself for the redeye to London. I took my “sleeping pill” and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible for the job at hand, sleeping before I landed. As it turned out, giving the two year old across the aisle a Xanax might have been a shrewder idea. Every time I drifted off, I was awakened by the piercing cry of an overtired kid. I would have loved to complain except I was full of my own Xanax and could barely form words.
At any rate, I did manage a few hours of sleep and was coherent enough to make it off the plane and collect both my daughter, who had not slept a wink, and my luggage. Fortunately, my cousin Lauren had sent a car to retrieve us so we were soon en route to her house. She lives in a beautiful section of London called Notting Hill and we were dropped off and ushered inside. It was only eight in the morning London time and we were ready to start our day. The first order of business after some “small talk” was a nap. Lauren lives on a communal garden and the houses are very tall and skinny. My room was on the very top floor of a five story building. After what seemed like a twenty-minute stair workout I made it to my room and collapsed from sheer physical exhaustion. Between the lack of sleep and the climb, this tourism business was an unbelievable workout and I felt like I had reached the top of one of the Seven Summits. I slept for about an hour and a half, staggered out of my room, down the five flights of steps to the kitchen, consumed an enormous cup of coffee and we planned our first day in London.
Upon taking one look at my “outfit”, I was deemed unsuitably attired and a complete and total makeover would be required. Being an accommodating guest, I bit back my usually out of control tongue and agreed to go along with said makeover. Apparently, a ratty gray sweatshirt isn’t “smart” enough for the city, so a new cashmere hoodie was acquired. First mission accomplished: I was no longer a complete and total embarrassment. We then spent a perfect afternoon shopping with my daughter Keely and her friend Kathleen who was visiting from Madrid.
Apparently we had brought the beautiful weather with us and all this “cold and drizzle” crap that everyone had been complaining about was nowhere to be seen. Of course, I had packed loads of warm weather gear and now I had nothing to wear for the week as well.
That evening, Keely was going to spend the night out with friends and I was going to be attending a birthday party with my cousin Lauren and her husband Michael. I had promised that I was capable of “cleaning up” and not only would I look okay I would also be on my best behavior. In other words, I was going to need my “A” game. We drove to the party through a few posh sections of London and I kept waiting to die as we were on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, all the other drivers were as well so we all managed to live through the experience. This is something I noticed through my entire stay. Everywhere you walk there are signs that say look left or look right. Apparently, I’m not the only person to visit London who has had hundreds of near death experiences by cars driving from the opposite direction that they were expected to be coming from…but I digress.
The party was in a jazz club called 606 and it was down in a cellar. It was a 50th birthday party and the host was a famous Australian artist. His wife was also an artist and it was her birthday party. I Googled him before I went so I wouldn’t appear completely ignorant during the party. There I met a lot of writers, artists and a few publishers who I quickly inundated with my business cards for “All Fooked Up”. I even met a few “farmers.” Apparently, if you are given an estate out in the country and retire to it, you become a “farmer.” It’s sort of like if I called myself a housekeeper because I live in a house and somehow, it’s kept up. It seems I was learning something new every minute at the party. At any rate, the party was amazing and for their mother’s birthday, the two children got up and played the piano and sang a song to their mother IN FRENCH. It was at this point that I suddenly realized how poor a job I had done raising my own children, as they neither play an instrument, sing, nor speak any other languages fluently. However, I know for a fact that they know “Happy Birthday To You” so I suppose I’m not a complete failure.
Next there were a few sweet speeches about the birthday girl and then a friend of the family, some professional jazz singer, stood up and gave an impromptu concert. Without a doubt, this was amazing and I realized that I was going to have to improve my friend group to have a party like this myself. I will be auditioning new friends when I arrive home. Torch singer experience required.
Soon, the jazz band began playing and all these beautiful and well-dressed people began dancing. I had been charming for over two hours and I was running out of steam so I began the major drinking portion of the evening by repairing to the back bar and sitting down, drink in hand. Trying hard not to be the “boorish American,” I began charming my way through more publishers, writers, bankers and even the odd Australian National Rugby captain. It was a “fantastic” party and I must say, I was a “brilliant” conversationalist. Mostly I was just exhausted having been up seemingly forever.
We arrived home, I took off my heels and prepared for the two-hour trek to the fifth floor. And so ended my first day in London…